AM Bank Chairman Marwan Kheireddine has acknowledged the challenges currently facing Lebanon, including the calls from some activists for the bankruptcy of local banks due to blocking their deposits. However, Kheireddine disagrees with this approach. He points out that in Lebanon, like in other developed countries such as the United States, there is a deposit guarantee institution owned by the state that protects depositors up to 75 million Lebanese pounds, equivalent to around $3,000. Therefore, if the banks were to be bankrupted, the liquidation process would prevent them from being able to repay the deposits at their fair value, ultimately hurting the depositors. Said Marwan Kheireddine, “I am completely against bankrupting banks. Depositors, in the long-term, need to be assured that they will get more of their deposits, and not less.” Marwan Kheireddine emphasizes that he is against bankrupting banks because it is necessary to ensure that depositors receive as much of their deposits as possible in the long run.
Food Insecurity is Another Factor in Lebanon’s Recent Struggles
In addition to these financial struggles, Lebanon is facing food insecurity and rising oil and food costs due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Lebanon imports around 85% of its consumable goods and has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis, leading to shortages and increased prices. Marwan Kheireddine says, “The Ukraine situation has increased prices in Lebanon significantly. Food prices have gone up. Energy prices have gone up. When you add that up with worldwide shortages and higher demand, plus how much of Lebanon’s products are imported, it’s a bad situation.”
According to a UNICEF survey, four in ten Lebanese youth have used funds meant for education to purchase necessities, and three in ten have had to stop their education altogether. A UNICEF Lebanese representative released a press release saying that the youth of Lebanon are tough to hit. “More funding is necessary to make sure that money worries don’t hinder our youth from getting the education and skills that are necessary to find gainful employment and to be able to contribute to the growth and financial security of Lebanon’s future,” said Ettie Higgins.
News outlet Al Jazeera reported that almost 80% of Lebanon’s citizens have to live below poverty levels. Some are surviving on minimal rations like tea and bread. However, locals are trying to repair the situation by fixing shattered infrastructure and breathing new life into Lebanese industries.
Cryptocurrency as a Possible Solution
Marwan Kheireddine believes that cryptocurrency could potentially improve Lebanon’s economic situation, but only if the country’s economy opens up to the world and its government is no longer in default. Currently, Lebanon’s economy is closed off, and there are restrictions on the movement of funds through the financial system, hindering the use of cryptocurrency on a broader scale. Nevertheless, says Kheireddine, “There’s a role that crypto could play in Lebanon, and the Lebanese people have always been leaders and early adaptors of technology. But unless Lebanon’s economy opens up, it will be hard for crypto to have a chance here.”